Karl Greenwood, co-founder of OneCoin with Ruja Ignatova, was sentenced in the United States to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay $300 million on Sept. 20. Ignatova remains at large.
Greenwood, who is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Sweden, was sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In a statement by the Justice Department, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams called OneCoin “one of the largest fraud schemes ever perpetrated.” The multilevel marketing and Ponzi scheme reaped $4 billion from 3.5 million victims, the statement said, adding:
“In reality, unlike legitimate cryptocurrencies, OneCoin had no actual value.”
The OneCoin team compared its product to Bitcoin (BTC) in sales pitches but did not have, in the words of the Justice Department, “a true blockchain — that is, a public and verifiable blockchain,” any mining operations or even as many coins on its private blockchain as it sold.
Greenwood has been in custody since 2018, when he was extradited from Thailand. He pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and money laundering in December and could have received a sentence of up to 60 years. He is said to have made over $300 million through a 5% commission on all OneCoin sales and to have spent lavishly on luxury goods and the corresponding lifestyle.
Ignatova has not been seen since October 2017 and is on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Ten Most Wanted List. A number of other OneCoin executives are facing justice, however.
In 2014, a woman named Ruja Ignatova launched a fake cryptocurrency named "OneCoin". Despite the currency never existing, Ruja convinced people all over the world to invest. In 2017, after raking in $4 billion profit, she boarded a plane to Greece and hasn't been seen since. pic.twitter.com/DoJCfmy0Uj— Informative & Interesting (@geniusbrain_in) March 15, 2023
OneCoin former head of legal and compliance Irina Dilkinska was charged in the U.S. with one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering in March. Ignatova associate Christopher Hamilton was reportedly set to be extradited to the U.S. on fraud and money laundering charges in August 2022.